Survival Kits Reviewed

Survival Kits Reviewed: What Should Your Kit Include?

For outdoor enthusiasts, survivalists, and even casual adventurers, a survival kit is a non-negotiable necessity. In the face of unexpected circumstances or emergencies, a well-stocked survival kit can be a life-saver. This comprehensive guide will delve deep into the components of a survival kit, offering a review of essential items that should find a place in your pack.

The Importance of a Survival Kit

Survival kits serve a crucial purpose – they offer a safety net when things go awry. They hold the power to transform a potentially life-threatening situation into a manageable challenge. Whether you find yourself stranded in the wilderness, caught up in a natural disaster, or facing any unforeseen adversities, a survival kit equips you with the tools and resources needed to stay safe and alive.

Essential Components of a Survival Kit

While survival kits can be customized based on personal needs and the environment you’ll be navigating, there are certain universal elements that should be included in every kit. These items form the backbone of a survival kit, providing basic sustenance and safety:

  1. Water and Food: At the very least, your kit should include a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food items. Hydration and sustenance are critical in survival situations.
  2. First Aid Kit: Accidents happen, and having a first aid kit at hand is vital. This should contain bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, medical tape, pain relievers, and any necessary prescription medications.
  3. Fire Starter: Fire serves multiple purposes – warmth, cooking, sterilization, and even signaling for help. Include matches, a lighter, or a fire starter in your kit.
  4. Multi-tool: A multi-tool is a compact yet powerful addition to your kit. It can serve as a knife, a can opener, a screwdriver, and more.
  5. Shelter: Exposure to harsh weather conditions can be deadly. Items like a space blanket or tube tent can provide critical protection from the elements.
  6. Flashlight and Batteries: A reliable source of light is crucial, especially when you need to navigate or signal for help in the dark.
  7. Communication Devices: A whistle for signaling and a solar or hand-crank powered radio for receiving important updates and information should be part of your kit.

Advanced Survival Kit Components

Experienced survivalists or those venturing into particularly challenging environments may want to add the following items to their survival kits. These enhance your ability to adapt and survive in complex situations:

  • Navigation Tools: A compass and physical maps of the area you’ll be exploring can be invaluable in finding your way.
  • Survival Knife: A sturdy, full-tang knife is a powerful tool in survival scenarios, useful for everything from food preparation to self-defense.
  • Water Purification: In case your water supply runs out, water purification tablets or a LifeStraw can make unclean water sources safe to drink.
  • Paracord: Paracord is incredibly versatile. It can be used for building shelters, setting traps, and even as a fishing line.
  • Signaling Mirror: This tool can be used to signal for help in daylight conditions, particularly useful when you are in vast, open spaces or at sea.

Specialized Survival Kit Components

Depending on the nature of your outdoor activities or the specific environmental challenges you may face, there are some additional items you might consider including in your survival kit:

  • Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): A PLB can send your location to a network of satellites, triggering a rescue operation in grave situations.
  • Portable Charger: Keeping your electronic devices powered, especially your phone, can be crucial for communication or navigation.
  • Snake Bite Kit: If you are venturing into snake-prone areas, this can be a vital inclusion.
  • Flares: Flares can serve as a powerful signaling tool, particularly if you are in a remote location or lost at sea.

Customizing Your Survival Kit

While there are general guidelines and recommendations for what a survival kit should include, the most effective kits are tailored to the individual’s needs and the specific environment. Factors such as climate, terrain, personal medical requirements, and the nature of your activities should all be considered when assembling your survival kit.

Commercial Survival Kits: What to Look For

If you’re not inclined towards building your own survival kit, there are plenty of commercial survival kits available in the market. These kits typically come pre-packaged with essentials and often include items you might not have thought of, like fishing gear or a sewing kit. However, it’s crucial to evaluate these kits carefully. Consider the quality of the components, the number of items included, their relevance to your needs, and the price point.

Practicing Survival Skills

Having a well-equipped survival kit is just one part of the equation. It’s equally essential to familiarize yourself with survival techniques and know how to use the items in your kit effectively. From learning how to start a fire and build a shelter to understanding basic first aid procedures and navigation skills, practice is vital.

Survival Kit Maintenance

Just like any other piece of equipment, your survival kit needs regular checks and maintenance. Make sure to replace expired items, check batteries, and ensure that tools are in good working condition. This will keep your survival kit ready for use at a moment’s notice.

Bottom Line

Survival kits are a critical component of outdoor adventures, and even everyday preparedness. Tailoring your kit to your environment and needs, coupled with the knowledge of how to use the items effectively, could make the difference between life and death in a survival situation. Be it a DIY or commercial kit, the importance of a well-stocked, maintained, and understood survival kit cannot be overstated.

Additional Resources

For more information and to further enhance your survival skills, visit the official websites of the American Red Cross or the Department of Homeland Security’s Ready Program. Both offer a wealth of resources, including guides, tips, and training programs for emergency preparedness.


Q: How often should I check and update my survival kit?
A: It’s advisable to review your survival kit at least twice a year. Replace any expired or used items, and consider any changes in your personal needs or activities that might require adjustments to your kit.

Q: What is the most important item in a survival kit?
A: It’s difficult to single out any one item as the most important since a survival kit works as a system. However, water, food, and a first aid kit are among the top necessities.

Q: Can I buy a pre-made survival kit?
A: Yes, there are many commercial survival kits available. However, it’s important to ensure that the kit fits your specific needs and the quality of the included items is high.

Q: Is a survival kit necessary even for a short trip?
A: Yes, emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. Even if you’re just going for a short hike or a day trip, it’s crucial to have basic survival items with you.

Q: What’s the difference between a survival kit and a bug-out bag?
A: A survival kit contains the essentials needed to survive in an emergency situation, while a bug-out bag is a portable kit that contains the items one would require to survive for 72 hours when evacuating from a disaster.

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